In 2021 a storm destroyed the road out to the further reaches of the Queen Charlotte Track. There are now several lodges along that stretch that can only be reached by boat (or foot), and Lochmara Lodge is one of them. We stayed there for two nights, hoping for a relaxing time amidst the beauty of the Marlborough Sounds.
This post contains affiliate links for Lochmara Lodge — if you click on one and book we’ll get a small cut. We paid our own way for everything during this trip.
Getting to Lochmara Lodge
Lochmara Lodge is a 20-minute boat ride across Queen Charlotte Sound from Picton. The lodge has its own boat service with pickups and drop-offs a few times a day.
The last boat back goes in the afternoon (around 2pm or 4pm depending on the season) so you can spend a good amount of time there the day you check out. I did the walk up to the Queen Charlotte Track in the morning we left and caught the boat back to Picton at 2.30 pm. Note: Lochmara Lodge is closed over winter (June 6 – September 13, 2023).
Most of the rooms have views of Lochmara Bay — we stayed in one of the cheapest ones (a double room) the first night and I reckon that might have had the best view of all. Our studio room for the second night was right next door and was much bigger (and it had a kitchenette – microwave, fridge, toaster and jug). Whatever room you go for will be good value — we were impressed with the prices for such a cool place.
Check out Lochmara Lodge on Booking.com
Eating and Drinking
There’s a restaurant at Lochmara Lodge which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The prices are decent considering there’s no competition, but you can also bring your own food (ready to eat meals) if you go for a room with a kitchenette (the smaller room only had a jug and fridge).
We ate most of our meals at the restaurant and really enjoyed the variety of snacks (fried chicken and chips especially) and desserts. On a nice day you can dine outside or bring the food over to your room (we loved eating outside our room — can’t beat those views!). There’s a social atmosphere at the restaurant with board games and cards – a good way to meet some of the other guests. We had a fun game with John and Dianne from Australia — although my terrible card skills were exposed.
Things to Do at Lochmara Lodge
You’ll find heaps to do at Lochmara Lodge, and the kids will enjoy most of it too. You can feed farm animals, see glow worms, explore the quirky artwork throughout the property, do some short bush walks and kayak in Lochmara Bay. There’s also an underwater observatory and a romantic looking pair of baths overlooking the bay.
Our favourite thing to do was wander around the various paths around the property. There are some great views on offer and there’s always something quirky to look at.
Queen Charlotte Track
There’s a track leading up the hill from Lochmara Lodge which takes you to the Queen Charlotte Track. It takes around 45 minutes to get to the main track. There are some nice views from this track and if you’re only looking for a short walk you could go as far as you want and then head back down.
Once at the top, turn left and you’ll soon reach a detour track leading to Onahau Lookout. Apparently it’s one of the best viewpoints in the Queen Charlotte Track, but I could barely see anything due to the low cloud. I waited around for an hour and the photo below is as good as it got.
The walk was worth it anyway as there are lots of impressive views along the way (both from the access track from Lochmara Lodge and the Queen Charlotte Track). If you’re keen for a taste of the Queen Charlotte Track this is one of the best options. All up it should take around three hours to walk to the Onahau Lookout and back.
We stayed at Lochmara Lodge for two nights. We booked one night first then decided to extend, hence why we had two different rooms. Both rooms had awesome views, the only real difference was the second room had more beds and a kitchenette. There wasn’t a huge difference in price and we thought both rooms were great value.
The boat from Picton cost us around $70 each return and is easy to organise. We booked our stay at Lochmara Lodge through Booking.com and received information about the boats almost straight away. As they have their own boat service it’s easy to book through them, although other boat services are also available from Picton to take you there.
You can leave your car in Picton while staying at Loch Lodge. We paid $15 for just under three full days — the car park is just behind the marina. And, in case you missed it earlier, Lochmara Lodge is closed over winter (June 6 – September 13, 2023).
Are you planning a trip to the Marlborough Sounds? Let us know in the comments below!
Latest posts by Jon Algie (see all)
- Top 12 Waterfalls in the South Island, New Zealand - May 31, 2023
- Otira Viaduct Lookout, Arthur’s Pass - May 23, 2023
- A Trip to Lochmara Lodge, Marlborough Sounds - May 17, 2023